Legal

IHOP Franchisee Settles EEOC Sex Discrimination Lawsuit for $1 Million

By Mike Tsikoudakis

Nov. 13, 2012

A franchisee of IHOP IP L.L.C. breakfast restaurant chains in New Mexico has agreed to settle a class sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, paying $1 million to resolve the case.

In the suit filed in September 2011 against Fahim Adi, owner and operator of at least six IHOP restaurants in the Albuquerque, New Mexico, area, the EEOC alleged that Lee Broadnax, a general manager at the IHOP restaurants, sexually harassed a class of female employees, the EEOC said Nov. 13 in a statement.

Broadnax allegedly subjected the female employees to sexually offensive conduct, including sexual comments, innuendo and unwanted touching, according to court documents.

After complaints were made about Lee Broadnax’s behavior, IHOP failed to take reasonable measures to prevent and promptly correct sexual harassment allegations, according to court documents.

In some cases, the sexual harassment allegedly caused some women to quit their jobs, the EEOC said.

“Managers must constantly be reminded of their obligation to maintain workplaces where employees are not subjected to illegal harassment or forced to quit because of the harassment,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney at the EEOC’s Phoenix district office, in the statement. “Where managers fail to satisfy these obligations, it is the employer’s responsibility to correct the violations and prevent other violations from occurring.”

In addition to the $1 million settlement, which is expected to be divided among at least 22 women, the IHOP franchisee, which employees more than 300 workers in Albuquerque, agreed to provide its employees anti-discrimination training and notice of the settlement, among other things, the EEOC said.

Attempts to reach the IHOP franchisee for immediate comment were unsuccessful.

Mike Tsikoudakis writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.

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